PLT Working Group Defines Lands, Revenues and Proceeds Due to Native Hawaiians

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Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, Trustee, Maui

After years of concern about the state’s inability to marshal and accurately account for all of the ceded lands now held by the state in the Public Land Trust (PLT) – and the state’s inability to accurately account for and pay 20% of all of the proceeds and revenue derived from these lands to OHA for the “betterment of conditions of Native Hawaiians” – the 31st Legislature of the State of Hawaiʻi passed Senate Bill 2021, enacted into law as Act 226, to create a process to resolve this issue.

In establishing this working group, the legislature stated this action was necessary to uphold the state’s constitutional trust responsibility owed to native Hawaiians.

In accordance with Act 226, the working group was to be comprised of six members, three appointed by the governor and three appointed by the OHA Board of Trustees.

The governor appointed Dawn Chang, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Budget and Finance, and Ryan Kanakaʻole, a deputy attorney general to the working group.

OHA’s Board of Trustees (BOT) appointed me, along with Hawaiʻi Island Trustee and Vice-Chair Mililani Trask, and Sherry Broder, esteemed Native Hawaiian right’s attorney and a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

The working group is responsible for accounting for all ceded lands in the PLT inventory, for accounting for all income and proceeds from the PLT, and for defining the 20% pro rata share of the income and proceeds from the PLT due annually to OHA for the “betterment of conditions” of Native Hawaiians.

Act 226 further provides that all state departments or agencies that use, manage, or receive income, proceeds, or any other funds derived from the PLT must cooperate with the working group.

The working group is required to prepare a report to the legislature of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation required and the annual amount constituting 20% of income and proceeds from the PLT due OHA. OHA is required to provide administrative support as necessary and prepare the final report of the working group.

The working group has thus far met on September 5, September 21, October 17, October 31, and November 20 with more meetings yet to be set. All meetings of the working group are held in compliance with the State Open Meetings Act.

The State Land Information Management System (SLIMS), the Public Land Trust Information System (PLTIS), the DLNR Annual Report to the Legislature pursuant to Act 178, Session Laws of Hawaiʻi 2006, and the Report to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on the Accuracy and Completeness of a report by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to Hawaiʻi State Legislature on Public Land Trust Receipts for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2016, by N&K CPAs Inc. (2018) were reviewed and discussed by the working group.

A discussion of other present and future sources of revenue and proceeds from all the state’s PLT lands, including the state’s submerged lands, is being undertaken. The working group is actively pursuing a means to receive accurate information from all departments and agencies that use, manage, or receive income, proceeds, or any other funds derived from the PLT lands.

Mele Kalikimaka and Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou to you and your ʻohana.